does the word "story"
mean to you?
One of my biggest complaints with many short stories is that they fail
to tell an interesting story. So my first command to myself is to
always be interesting. This, however, does not mean every story has to
have a formal structure of conflict and resolution. Instead, a good
story could have those elements, but it also could provide a sketch or
insight as to the thoughts, actions, or life of some character in
crisis or some form of conflict that could be external or internal of
nature. That said, such a story must have some compelling nature to
draw the reader in. It is not enough to merely write well as I have
read a number of beautifully written stories that left me flat because
they failed to arouse my interest.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
Sometimes I have a specific reader in mind because it can help motivate
the telling of the story. I come from a family that likes good stories
and likes to tell good stories, so when I write I try to present the
issue at hand in a manner similar to if I were speaking the story to
Other times I want to make sure that by the end of the
story the reader feels as if they have left their immediate
surroundings and entered into a very different or new situation or the
mind of a person they never would have met in real life. The best
example of this is the title story of the collection that looks at two
kids who sell themselves to older men and that they have reached a
point where they need to redirect their lives. These are two people
most of us never would meet in real life.
Generally, though, I want the reader’s eyes to travel
through the story effortlessly; like a hot knife through butter,
because then they will lose the sensation of reading and enter the
situation or mind of the narrator.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
always am looking for input. I suppose
my first question would be "Did you find the story interesting?" and
then find out why they said yes or no. I would also be interested in
knowing the elements of the story and/or writing that helped them
forget they were reading as well as those elements that maybe tore them
from the story, that acted as a road block in their minds taking them
out of the narrative.
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
I wish I had a better sense of that and having an agent or some other
form of help to market my stories would be wonderful because this
business is too hard to do it on my own.
Beyond that, I love talking to people who have read my writing and I
love reading to people. I like interacting with readers because I think
if they have a sense of who I am, then it may help their enjoyment of
what I write.
Generally, though, it is great to know that these stories are available
to people because I did not just write them for my own enjoyment.
What are you working on now?
am working on a memoir of the year I spent being treated for cancer
that is based on the idea that our life’s experiences are the tools we
bring to such an experience. As such, it examines my life and my
experiences and disappointments with relationships, alcoholism and
recovery, and the rather peripatetic life I have led. I also am working
on more short stories and a novel based on a family whose lives center
around movies and older community movie theaters. Sort of Water for Elephants goes to the movies, I suppose.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
John Updike died I read a couple of his, which was sort of like going
back to the originator for me because as a kid I fell in love with
short stories, in part, after reading A&P. I also subscribe to The New Yorker, The Georgia Review, The Paris Review and other sources for short stories so I am always in the middle of reading someone’s short story.